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Botany or Plant Biology

Will magnets make plants grow taller?


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January 05, 2011 6:03PM

Answer One: Magnets affect the height of a plant. On radishes, it makes them shorter. On most plants, it causes it to grow faster and taller.

Answer Two: Magnets exert magnetic fields, as do electrical currents through wire. These magnetic fields have no impact on water transport through plant tissues, or on any of the minerals plants take up from the soil. Nor would magnets improve the process of photosynthesis. Theoretically, magnets should not have any impact on plant growth. Of course, this would need to be tested, preferably in a double blind experiment to rule out any effect of bias contamination of the results.

Three groups of plants--one with magnets, one with non magnetic masses of roughly the same mass and density in place of the magnets, and a third control group with neither magnets or fake magnets should be grown in homogeneous soil, subject to equal measures of sunlight and water. The expected result would be no statistically significant difference in germination rate, plant growth, flower and fruit production, or overall plant longevity.

Ten years ago a student at a school in Selah, Washington conducted an experiment that demonstrated an effect on radish growth opposite of the claim stated in the first answer. A better experiment would likely not indicate any statistically significant impact of magnets on plant growth.